Actual Archaeology Anatolia, 2014, Issue 12
Yayınevi: Aktüel Arkeoloji
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Cilt tipi: Kuşe Kapak
A hygienic atmosphere, a clean room with doctors and nurses A baby is coming into the world and a great effort is made to protect him with the healthiest conditions. We are wrong if we think mankind always came into the world under similar conditions. This is a luxury we have achieved in the past few centuries. Imagine how hunter-gatherer women gave birth to their children. There were no hospitals, doctors, medicine, nor vitamins for support. There was no hygiene at all However, in spite of all the unfavorable conditions and difficulties, mankind survived these days. The knowledge of medicine and the health conditions we have today are so indispensable for us that we cannot remember the difficult times in mankinds past. Our new issue is about Medicine and Health through the Ages. Although our present knowledge cannot take us very far back in time, it helps us to see the solutions developed by mankind over the course of a few millennia, as it was faced with health problems such as diseases and injuries.
Medicine has a long journey, starting in prehistoric periods with the development of primitive surgery and the empirical observations of animals and nature, which led to the identification and use of medicinal plants. Middle Paleolithic Neanderthal burials in Shanidar Cave, situated in Northern Iraq, present evidence for the medicinal use of plants approximately 60.000 years ago. One of the oldest types of information we have about medicine is brain surgery (trepanation), an operation performed on the skull of a living or dead individual with certain purposes and techniques, from the Neolithic Period onwards. As prehistoric man began to describe his diseases, he distinguished them by causality, by differentiating natural and supernatural causes. He explained the causes of diseases as the work of evil spirits, witchcraft, and magic and developed treatment methods such as magical rituals, exorcism, incantations, and divination. As illustrated in ancient Babylonian cuneiform tablets, priest-physicians magical healing methods combined with physicians medicinal knowledge developed ancient Mesopotamian medicine. The medical practices we encounter in Anatolia during the 2nd millennium BC were as developed as the practices in Egypt and Mesopotamia. Hittite cuneiform tablets demonstrate that the Hittites identified about 50 diseases and symptoms and developed various treatment methods.
There were multiple medical methods in the ancient Greek and Roman worlds, including the use of medicinal plants, healing spells, magical substances, amulets, gymnastics, diet, etc. However, the most popular healing method was the temple healing cults, among which the Asclepian cult was the most famous. A famous healing temple of Asclepius, the Asclepieion on the Greek Island of Kos, was where Hippocrates, the father of western medicine, was trained. This long journey, extending from the primitive practices of the prehistoric periods, to the magical healing methods in Ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia and Anatolia, to the temple healing cults of the Greek and Roman worlds, finally reach the periods of Hippocrates and Galen, which leads to the development of modern scientific medicine.